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Would You Believe That The Tour de France Only Now Has Its First Black Rider?

  • Ben Axelrod

Quick: if I asked you whether or not a black cyclist had ever competed in the Tour de France, what would your answer be? Keep in mind, they’ve been doing this thing since 1903.

Your answer would be yes, because at some point over the last 108 years, you would have figured a black rider would have had to have competed in the Tour, if not for no other reason than the fact that a color barrier of any sort exisiting in 2011 sounds so weird.

Mind-blowingly, there was a color barrier in the Tour de France, until this year. When Yohann Gene competed in this year’s Tour, he was the first black man to do so in the race’s history.

And (surprise!) the welcome mat hasn’t exactly been laid out for him.

Gene, who is of Guadeloupian descent, has been the target of racism during his rise to cycling’s largest stage, as his manager, Jean-Rene Bernaudeau explained to Time World.

“I had to deal with a few problems and contact sponsors of two foreign teams about it. After the doping incidents, I couldn’t let racism be part of cycling.”

Gene, 30, is currently in 125th place.

[Black Sports Online, Time World, Image via]